You, Little Sylvia, will come up knowing the truth, but to the rest of the world–to jellyfishes, crackers, finkies, and swells, to Bosom families and Consolidated alike–the stars are not real. The planets are not real. Astronomy, if spoken of al all, is regarded as a delusional cult scarcely more respectable than the Jesus Lovers. The Chiefs long back did the decent thing and decided to put both gangs out of business. The Jesus Lovers dug in; you will see their lowercase t scratched on fenceposts with a ten-dollar nail. But the Astronomers went off quietly without leaving a trace or sign.
They were easily dispatched because their ideas so nearly resembled fiction. You will learn better, Little Sylvia, but to the rest of the world Astronomy is nonsense, magic on par with weather-knowing and poetry cures.
The surest way to hobble any truth is to put it in a story-book. Smart Man Tolemy wrote The Lonesome Wanderer for children so that we would come up knowing Astronomy as a fairy tale. His Astronomers were pale, hairless mountain men who believed the bright flaws in the Night Glass to be distant Suns. They believed the Wanderers to be other worlds like our own. In contradiction of common sense and observation, their Sun did not circle the Earth but the other way around.
–From Jeffrey Rotter’s second novel The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering, a chaotic romp following the much maligned Van Zandt family as they try escape the law in a near-future America, where astronomy has become a fairy tale, and Earth has returned to its pre-Copernican status as the center of the Universe.
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